COVID cases have jumped by 30 per cent in the last week, with 1.7million Brits now having the bug, data has revealed.

Brits have been warned to protect their grandparents as we head into the winter months and as the virus becomes more widespread.

And fresh figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there has been a notable rise in infections – especially in the elderly.

Last week, one in 50 people had the bug, this has now risen to one in 35.

That means that 1.7million Brits have the bug, up from 1.3million.

Separate data from the government has also revealed the ten areas worst hit by infection.

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The interactive map above shows the worst hit areas of the country, with those shaded in dark purple having higher infection rates.

The figures refers to the number of people infected per 100,000 of the population.

The ten most infected local authority areas are:

  1. West Devon – 204.8
  2. Tendring – 204.1
  3. Stafford – 191.5
  4. Plymouth – 188.3
  5. New forest – 187.6
  6. Teignbridge – 182.9
  7. North Norfolk – 175
  8. Eastbourne – 174.2
  9. Test Valley – 173
  10. Isle of Wight – 171.5

Medics urged those feeling unwell to stay away from elderly friends or relatives in order to prevent the illness being passed on.

Separate data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app also found that cases have risen by 34 per cent in the last two weeks.

Professor Tim Spector, the lead on the ZOE study said despite an increase in cases, the bug is actually slowing.

NHS data also showed that rates have dipped slightly in recent days – with all figures remaining well below the levels reached in all waves.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “There are early indications that deaths with Covid-19 have also started to rise.

“Whilst this is concerning, it is too early to say whether these are deaths due to Covid-19 and it is reassuring that at this stage there is no overall excess mortality.

“If you are unwell or have symptoms of a respiratory infection, it is particularly important to avoid contact with elderly people or those who are more likely to have severe disease because of their ongoing health conditions.

“Wearing a face covering will also help stop respiratory infections spreading.”

At present, hospital admissions are at their highest rates since July.

A total of 10,608 people with coronavirus were in hospital as of 8am on October 12 – this is up 10 per cent from 9,631 a week earlier and is the highest figure since July 29.

Since the Omicron wave took hold in the UK last year, the majority of people who get the bug are experiencing common cold like signs.

However, there are concerns that more infections will add pressure to an already strained NHS.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the increase in patients with Covid-19 was causing “continued pressure” on the health service, along with a rise in the most serious ambulance call-outs and delays in discharging patients into community and social care.

He added: “As we prepare for a difficult winter ahead, it is vital that people protect themselves by coming forward for Covid and flu vaccinations if they are eligible as soon as they can – with bookings opening on Friday to everyone aged 50 and over.”